Tuesday, April 15, 2008

third grade character -slice of life #2

Teaching good character traits is an important part of our district curriculum. In fact it's in our Strategic Governance Plan under Essential Life Skills. Our third graders are instructed in a set of lessons presented by our guidance counselors and those are reinforced in the classroom and home by teachers and families. First, both our guidance counselors are goddesses. Along with the usual support counselors provide, they are great teachers. They know how to activate schema and engage students through discussion, role-play, rehearsing, and writing. I saw this in action today.

The lesson was about perseverance. I was in and out a bit with teacher chores, but, I did see and hear the last ten minutes of the 30 minute lesson. Groups of three and four students scattered in various spots all over the classroom carpet were abuzz as they responded to a set of questions that challenged their thinking about what it meant to persevere. These open ended, higher level prompts challenged my own thinking as I listened surreptitiously to the calm, thoughtful, back and forth discussions inhabiting these groups of third grade students.

Seen and heard:

Q: Rome was not built in a day. What does this common saying say about the importance of perseverance? A: Rome had a lot of perseverance to build such a big city and empire. The Romans were so great. The empire took years to build but, the Romans stuck to their plans.

Q: Perseverance is a virtue. But are there times it is a mistake to persevere? A: If you are hurting yourself. If somebody is better than you at something and you are jealous and want to keep snapping back at them. When someone is annoying you, they shouldn't persevere with that behavior.

Q:When in your life have you just given up? How do you feel about giving up? A: I have never given up (then, from a classmate: "Well, if you ever did give up how do you think you would feel?") I feel dissappointed when I give up because I can't reach my goal. I couldn't accomplish my goals. I would be very unhappy to give up on things I'm trying to do. I would never have a chance to see some things happen.
Q: Has anything bad really ever happened to you or to someone close to you? How did you or that person cope with the situation? A: What is cope? (after "cope" is explained) When my goldfish died I was sad but I got over it by hugging my mom and thinking happy thoughts. My cousin had perseverance because she broke her arm and didn't give up. She was three years old. She just tried and tried to play hand games with her cousins until she could do it. She never complained.

Q: You have a friend that can't seem to win. She never seems to succeed. She is feeling blue. What can you say to motivate her to not give up? A: You can tell her something nice or give her advice like, "don't give up." You could tell her she's a special person.
Comments we can all live by.


HipWriterMama said...

You have a sweet group of kids in your class. Thanks for sharing.

BK said...

Strong connections with the guidance counselors, how wonderful that you have such a positive relationship.
I think that's unusual.
What was it like watching your kids experience something positive? Are you able to find other ways to work collaboratively with the counselors? Seems like a great chance to build together.

debrennersmith said...

this lesson reminds me of my book, Beyond Retelling, by Patricia Cunningham and Debra Renner Smith. I wrote about themes and character traits on my website at www.debrennersmith.com that you might like.

Blink said...

Bonnie-sorry so late in replying to your comment. We are lucky to have strong connections with our guidance counselors. We need it. Our counselors truly manage so many good outreach programs at our school. They work with our parent center to get free school supplies to families, a holiday "giving tree" for kids in our school that is teacher sponsored, small group and individual counseling, and they set up and manage a mentoring program for kids who can benefit from other positive adult role models. They somehow find time to communicate all these programs to teachers and work with us to create an environment for learning for our kids. Whew... tired just writing about it. Thanks for the opportunity to go on about it!